I'm going to share bits of testimony from the Heery depositions that we received at the blog in hard copy form. I am posting this because I am tired of people calling us "intolerant" for calling out Lewis, Pope and the Board of Education's poor behavior. This is serious. This school system is in deep doo doo and it's certainly not the fault of the angry teachers, parents and taxpayers who vent at this blog. This testimony is childish and ridiculous. There are no crimes here, just manipulation and game-playing.
At a meeting of the DCBOE on June 13, 2005, Dr. Crawford Lewis requested that the Board authorize the employment of Lanta Technology Group to conduct an assessment of DCSD's (DeKalb Co School District's) Human Resources Department. The stated purpose was to identify and prioritize the areas that needed to be reorganized, retrained, reamped and redirected. Surprisingly, his undertaking occurred out of view of the public bid process. Instead, Dr. Lewis informed the Board that it was "urgent" to proceed with this assessment as quickly as possible. Dr. Lewis expressed that he had a long relationship with Lanta and had a great deal of confidence in them. (Motion was adopted 6-2) Shortly after, Dr. Lewis engaged the services of Lanta as "head hunters".
In his deposition Lewis states:
Q Are you familiar with Lanta?
A I am
Q How are you familiar with them?
A We asked Lanta to come in and do an assessment of our HR Dept
Q Have they placed any employees with the school district?
A They have
Q Do you recall which employees?
A Yes, Pat Pope, I want to say Gloria Talley and Darren Ware
Q Was Mr Ware placed in the human resources dept?
A Yes he was
Q How long was he here?
A A short period of time, maybe a couple of months or so
Q Ok and why did he leave?
A We learned that Mr Ware - had not been truthful about his employment and education
Q Ok so honesty is important to the DeKalb County School System?
A I think honesty is important
Pay attention to Dr Lewis' use of the word "urgent" to get board approvals. This occurs over and over. I"m betting it will come up regarding these budget cuts.
For those unfamiliar with Darren Ware, click here for the link to the news item.
In her deposition, Ms Pope was asked about her employment history. She testified that after completion of college, her first employment was with a company she called "Eichley". ... then for a couple of years, she worked for Epstein Construction in Chicago. Next, she worked for a smaller company, but she forgot the name of it. Then a company identified as "Ruscilli" where she was a project manager for commercial construction. Next, Lathrop Company, a division of Turner Construction for about 2 years. Then she moved to Atlanta to take a position with Skanska, USA (Beers), -- she then went to Manhattan Construction Company and remained there until 2004 when she left to work with her purported husband, an architect. After that, she became an employee of DCSC (See deposition of Patricia A. Pope, Novermber 13, 2007, pp 19-26).
At another point, Pope was asked about her relationship with Lanta during the time she was being recruited by the DCSD. The resume that was furnished to the DCSD was identified by Pat Pope.
... numerous spects of Ms. Pope's prior employment were omitted and the chronology was confusing and unexplained. - Here is some of her testimony -
Q Ok I noticed that on your resume - you gave the names of certain entities that don't appear on the resume, in your previous testimony. Was there a reason for that?
A Generally, on a resume, and I'm not positive why - since I didn't produce it - but generally on a resume, the rule of thumb is the last 15 years.
Q Ok but the way I understand it, you were employed by Eichley Engineers from 1980-1990, is that correct?
A No I didn't do that I'm not sure who did. I'm not sure who did.
Q Ok Were you at Rucilli from 1990-1994?
A No I was at Ruscilli and then Lathrop.
Q Lathrop. I'm sorry.
A Yeah, so that is really messed up.
Q Is that accurate with Skanska, USA?
A I log about -- no. Actually Skansa, no. I can't say who did that, no.
Q Did you proof your resume before they puti it on?
A No this is the first time I've seen this one.
In addition to the numerous discrepancies regarding her employement history, it is also important to not that the resume submitted to the DCSD dos not identify "Patricia Pope" as the candidate for employment. Instead, ther resume pertains to "Patricia A. Reid". ...
She repeated the use of Patricia A. Reid when she prepared and submitted her application for employment with DCSD.
The name "Mrs. Patricia A. Reid" also appears.
She identifies her employer as DeKalb County Schools with Dr. Lewis as her supervisor. Her duties are stated to be "Consultant for SPLOST Program."
Ms Pope furnishes information about her previous employment and as to "Employer/Activity1" she states that she was employed by Vincent Pope & Aossociates, Inc. as Chief Operating Officer and that her immediate supervisor was Anthony V. Pope. In the space marked "your name when employed (if different) is left blank, creating the impression that her name was Patricia Reid when she worked for Vincent Pope.
In this employment application, for the first time in this case, Ms Pope has disclosed that prior to her current employment, she held a position with the DCSD as a consultant for the SPLOST program, working under the supervision of Dr Lewis.
In addition, from Sept 2004 to Oct 2005, Ms Pope states that she was simultaneously employed by Vincent Pope & Associates (and DCSD). (Her) application leaves many unanswered questions: When did she assume the position of "consultant" for the SPLOST program? How much was she being paid as a consultant? Was she being paid with SPLOST revenue? Was Ms Pope actually a consultant for SPLOST prior to the inception of the search process conducted by Lanta? Why didn't she inform Lanta of her employment with Vincent Pope & Associates? Was the 'search' process by Lanta merely a ruse to mislead the board? ... Were Ms. Pope and Dr. Lewis concealing an ongoing confict of interest created by Ms Pope's simultaneous employment by both the BOE and one of its architects?
When you met with Ms. Pope, were there any restrictions that you placed on her regarding her involvement in matters relating to Mr. Pope?
A Yes, yes.
Q Ok Do you recall what those restrictions were?
A I think so. Mr Pope was already working on a project in DeKalb schools at the time we were doing the interviews. And Mrs. Pope and Mr. Pope came in and shared with me that they were husband and wife.
And at that time, Mrs. Alexander and Mr. Hawkins and I shared with them that there was only one option, either Mr. Pope could continue to work as an architect, or if Ms Pope took the job opportunity, he would not be able to continue working in DeKalb because of the conflict of interest.
And we -- I consulted with our attorneys and with the Board and we were in agreement that we would allow Mr. Pope to finish the work that he had -- that he had begun.
I have also learned from these documents that DCSS paid over $3.5 million to a company called Nielsen-Wurster/Marsh for an enormous 54-volume study to determine the damages to seek against Heery Mitchell. By evaluating 20 projects, the company then used an average score and applied it to all of the SPLOST 1&2 projects to come up with a figure of somewhere between $85 and 125 million in damages.
This all sprang from the fact that when originally hired, Pat Pope fired about 3 people who then sued DCSS and Heery sued for $500,000 owed.
This is from the AJC article, Huge DeKalb schools project altered, aiding spouse --
It appears that Tony Pope should not have been working on the project, regardless. Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis has said that he told Pat Pope that Tony Pope could not work as a subcontractor for the project or any others he wasn’t already working on before his wife joined the school system.
Tony Pope disputes that. He contends that he was given written permission by the school district to be a subcontractor on the project. He gave the AJC a copy of an April 2008 letter he said granted him the permission.
In it, an attorney for the school district, J. Stanley Hawkins, wrote to Lewis that he did not consider the arrangement a conflict of interest.
“I told Pat that so long as there was no actual conflict of interest — and I did not see one here — the situation did not present any legal problem at all,” Hawkins wrote. “To the extent that any issue is presented, it is one of perception.”
But Hawkins left the ultimate decision up to the school board. It’s unclear whether the board resolved the matter.
So, in the end, Lewis himself signed the contract that plainly showed Pope Architects as an approved vendor. The board approved it as well. The rest of the story revolves around whether or not Pat Pope lied about her identity - which would only be a lie if she was fully aware that her previous marriage had not been legally dissolved. (Is there a realistic motivation for that?) However, she states that she thought she had legally divorced her first husband and when she found out that the paperwork was not complete in the courthouse files, she took steps immediately to complete it. Oh, and her resume on file is messy.
What do we have here? Essentially, we have a daytime soap opera featuring a superintendent who got a car for a cheap price and who then used his school system credit card to buy gas for it - three times in one day. The District Attorney felt that this crime was worthy of an "interview". The interview must have gotten pretty intense, as it was during this interview that Lewis urged the DA to investigate Pat Pope - the most damaging item coming to the fore as a result of investigating Pope is to find out that she was not officially, legally divorced from her first husband when she married the second. And now, as far as we can tell, the whole thing has dragged out for over 15 months and we have our top two employees, each with a salary of over $200,000, on some kind of "leave". We have an interim superintendent and a board comprised of 4 of 9 members having served less than 18 months and a $100+ million revenue shortage–resulting in cuts will harm students and teachers in our classrooms, while preserving most of the fiefdom created by our housebound leader.
Is there a bigger mess anywhere? Can someone help us?
Why don't you post any of the testimony of Heery officials? How did you get the testimony of the DeKalb officials?
Wow! And our BoE gave Crawford Lewis a RAISE and a CONTRACT EXTENSION just two months ago!!!
Nice going, DCSS BoE. Nice going.
When will the BoE members who presided over this (I'm talking to YOU Redovian, Bowen, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham and Roberts) turn in their resignations???
Before or after the other BoE members (I'm talking to YOU McChesney, Womack and Speaks) who just joined them in giving Crawford Lewis a raise and an extension???
I sincerely hope all this gets settled for everyone involved. It is sad and the citizen's of Dekalb County and the children of Dekalb County deserve it all to come to a head and be over with.
Well, it's pretty confusing, Anon 2:56 PM.
See, we have two issues here - one - the Heery Mitchell lawsuit - and the other - a resulting criminal investigation (with no charges) into Pope and Lewis.
The lawsuit started out with HM asking for $500,000 they felt they were due - which prompted an investigation by Pope into the change orders and whether or not they were the result of HM or Stan Pritchett (Pope's predecessor). So they decide it's HM and run out and hire Nielsen-Wurster/Marsh for $3.6 million to do a study to let them know how much to sue for. They recommend between $85-100 million.
Now, we've spent (I've heard different numbers) between $12 and $20 million on this lawsuit and haven't seen the inside of a courtroom yet. Except that news reports start making it look like Pat Pope is up to no good - and HM attorneys try to discredit her. Luckily, for them, she has skeletons in her closet. But this is not to say she has done anything illegal.
I am just trying to separate the circus that has evolved from this attempt at discrediting Lewis and Pope from the actual HM lawsuit. These are possible criminal charges against Pope - and are not connected to the HM civil lawsuit. I personally, don't see a crime here - but then again I'm not an attorney. I'm just a parent and resident of DeKalb county who wants this nonsense to end so that we can turn our attention to educating children.
Our board refuses to take action against these two and continue to keep our entire system in limbo with very poor leadership and a serious budget crisis. The board and Lewis have allowed this situation to explode out of control - and now they act as if they don't even know what to say about it.
And guess what - they don't say anything. They are all living on that river in Egypt.
Dekalb has always been known to spend so much money on lawyer fees before ever admiting any wrong doing. However look at the money spend in this case. This is unbelieable and the only ones who will end up on top are the lawyers in this case. Neither Michell or the School System will win. They both will lose money. All both of them had to do was to mediate the situation and everyone would have been winners in this situation in the long run I do believe. Everyone would have saved a ton of money.
Just my humble opinion, but I think it has validity (or it wouldn't be my opinion!)
Here are the things that are detracting from the real work of dealing with the budget shortfall. I believe that many of them are being kept in the picture precisely because they keep the citizens from thinking clearly about what is going on, how we got here, and how to begin to fix it:
1) Pope and Lewis being out of the picture, but still on the payroll. Enough to make anyone angry and frustrated.
2) The fact that neither Pope nor Lewis has been charged with anything, and even the information we have about what they did is partial and inclined toward the sensational.
3) The rumors of unsavory behavior by employees of DCSS.
4) The school system's lawsuit against Mr. Grigsby at SWDeKalb - seriously, they could have fired him, suspended any of the students who PROVEN to have behaved indecently, and been done with it.
5) The arguments taking place in public both at BoE meetings and meetings of the Consolidation Task Force. The whole county is upset and primed for the accusations of racism, favoritism, and ulterior motives.
6) The poor condition (due to neglect by the DCSS administration)of many (most?) of the DCSS buildings - makes everybody angry, and again provokes accusations of favoritism of others. The only solution that would avoid this is simultaneously fixing EVERY school building in the county!
7) DCSS officials failing to address their reasons for retaining magnet programs and FSC - if we were told the rationale, it might make all the sense in the world, who knows?, but we don't know and we keep fighting about the issue.
CITIZENS OF DEKALB - THIS STUFF IS EITHER BREAD AND CIRCUSES (Ohhh, what are we going to find out next??), OR LITTLE PIECES OF MEAT THROWN OUT TO US TO FIGHT OVER.
And they know it. I believe a whole bunch of it is on purpose.
It is not about any magnet program. It is about educating all the students in Dekalb County regardless of race, disability, ethnic background, or which side of the tracks you happen to live. It should not matter if a child is rich or poor or if the parents can speak up for a child's rights or not.
The school system should treat all children equal. Now saying this we all know that this is not a perfect system and some students get additional protection because of special laws under the ADA, etc. However, all children should be treated equal as far as programs in schools. Some schools should not have better equipment for students to learn than others.
This is occuring throughout Dekalb County in my opinion and I do not like to see it.
Thank goodness for some of the PTA which do make up the slack in some of the older school buildings.
The new school buildings get all new equipment while the old school buildings deal with the old equipments. It is sorta sad to me the inequalible treatment of the schools a system. Some areas do have more new schols and are luckier than other areas in this respect.
That's an excellent summary of the "facts" behind the soap opera. But one missing link is the CFO and Financial Office of DCSS--where are the people responsible for this shortfall? All well and good to point out what Dr. Lewis and the other administrators did wrong, and of course it's ultimately their responsibility, especially in the very hierarchical structure DCSS has. But there is a certain logic to having the CFO's office explain this situation, and in expecting these professionals to provide accurate predictions of various scenarios. Why did this take them by surprise? Now that we're all "under water", educationally, because of their poor planning, it would be only polite for them to enlighten us about their thinking that got us in so deep. But, beyond the constant reiteration that "it will be much worse next year", we haven't heard anything from the financial folks that gives us confidence that DCSS is being managed proactively, purposefully, or prudently. Just as it's our Superintendent's job to supervise (but wait, he's gone),our curriculum director's job to guide curriculum (but wait, she's gone after overseeing a failed math curriculum and a nit-picky grading system that's brought many teachers to their knees), so, too, is it the CFO's job to be Chief Financial Officer. Let's hear from that office!
It will be interesting to see what our financial future looks like.
Good point about the CFO, Anon. It would appear that although expenditures are recorded, none are ever called into question. For example, who keeps approving and paying these lawyers fees? At what point are we throwing good money after bad? Did they have an exit plan from the beginning - or has this been an "all in" win or lose proposition.
We've already spent enough to build a school - who has really suffered the loss here from this inability to control and question costs? Our children and their teachers.
Case in point - as made by DeKalb Parent - the ridiculous "criminal" case against Mr. Grigsby at SWDeKalb - have we all gone mad?
Is there any truth to the story that CL is going to announce he is "stepping down" next week while everyone is on vacation? I had heard rumors that the board restructured his contract and gave him a raise so they could get rid of him without owing him millions. At the time of the raise I was furious (as a Dekalb parent and teacher) but now it seems it might have been the truth. That is, if he really does step down. Regardless, I can't tell you how many times a day someone in the schoolhouse mentions that CL and Pat Pope are enjoying a nice long vacation with all of their benefits still intact while we do the important work in the trenches for less and less pay and benefits. Things have to change. The morale isn't low. It's non-existent.
4) The school system's lawsuit against Mr. Grigsby at SWDeKalb - seriously, they could have fired him, suspended any of the students who PROVEN to have behaved indecently, and been done with it.
Technical point. I don't think (I could be wrong) that there is a lawsuit against Mr. Grigsby. He was fired. Then appealed, and that held up. That's one process.
But today he got his day in court. In a criminal suit, with five charges against him, Mr. Grigsby was acquitted of all five charges.
Now what? Well, tack on another million bucks to what we're in the hole, because I'm betting that Mr. Grigsby will sue. And he'll deserve every penny that he gets.
The school system has no lawsuit against Mr. Grigsby. He was fired. While, he may have been acquitted criminally, the lack of control he showed over the students indicates his firing was justified.
Anon 6:57 is correct. DeKalb did not sue Mr. Grisby. Criminal cases are only brought by the District Attorney's office. The school system has no control over this process.
I understand that Pope's contract is up in June and I doubt that DCSS has any obligation to renew it. So it is much, much better to let her contract expire than to fire her and subject DCSS to a wrongful termination lawsuit by Pope.
Think about this though - She can't talk about the case as long as she's employed by the school system. The trial with HM has been delayed (it was supposed to have started in March). Will the board be forced to renew her contract to ensure her silence?
Rock. Hard place.
As far as Mr. Grisby - I really still can't believe the DA filed charges and held a trial. That could not have been a cheap endeavor. Plus, I do believe this will cost the school system big bucks eventually. So - double hit for the taxpayer.
Why would Grigsby trial cost the school system?
Well, it seems to me, whenever someone is cleared of criminal charges, they file a civil suit against the plaintiff. Plus - he said after the trial that he wants his job back - and I'm assuming he will sue for that. Personally, I just don't see why they didn't just fire the guy for cause and move on.
I don't see the crime. How can one teacher control that many kids? These kids obviously were not raised well and came to class with their own ideas about what's acceptable behavior - ideas that are far away from normal expectations. Maybe we should have prosecuted their parents. He was the chorus teacher - he had an enormous class with no other support in the room. Is that fair to expect one teacher to control so many kids?
Everyone sues everyone over everything these days.
BREAKING NEWS!!!! DR. CRAWFORD LEWIS GAVE HIS RESIGNATION TO THE BOARD THIS MORNING.
@ Cerebration 8:02 am
That's the situation you get with many enormous classes. If you were a science teacher, would you do any labs or hands-on with 40 or even 35 students in a class? I'm sure your answer is no, just a mine would be. For the students' safety, science teachers should not be doing labs with large classes.
In their Statement of Liability the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) states:
"Classes containing more than 24 students engaged in science activities cannot safely be supervised by one teacher. Additionally, research data show that accidents rise dramatically as class enrollments exceed 24 students or when inadequate individual workspace is provided (West et al. 2005)."
Parents need to know that school lab accident studies show their child's safety is compromised if science teachers run labs in classrooms exceeding 24 students.
We have been so concerned with the security issue as we swelled our security patrol ranks, we have totally overlooked the safety issue of large class sizes, particularly in the science area. All the more reason to pour more teaching resources into science, our weakest subject academically.
Do you think science teachers aren't aware of the safety issue with the current large class sizes. Many labs that are necessary for content mastery just can't be done because of the large class sizes. Less will be done next year.
DCSS does not require labs in any science classes even though this is the most efficacious way to teach science. They know the safety and know if they force teachers to run labs they are responsible if an accident happens.
At least the LHS parents can rest assured that their students won't be endangered by 40 kids working in a science lab - the labs don't work, so there's no danger. Can't do the hands-on to begin with!
This is so sad.
Here's the link to the AJC story on Grisby -
I do appreciate Tom Bowen's comments on the subject - a firm statement from a board member - finally.
Grigsby, who was fired last year, wants his teaching job back now. He currently directs the choir at Agnes Scott College and serves as minister of music at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Lithia Springs.
However, DeKalb school board chairman Tom Bowen said Grigsby will not get his job back. "The level of inappropriate behavior necessary for the district to terminate an employee is less than that which is required to be criminal," Bowen said. "Acquittal of a crime does not mean that the board's decision was incorrect or will in any way be revisited."
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